Bobby Ganache Macarons
Alan Lusk is a lover of travel and culture. On his treks across Europe he encountered a pastry that he fell in love with—the macaron. Sadly, back home in Pennsylvania, there were no macarons. “I can’t find them where I live, so if I want to eat them, I need to make them,” Alan decided.
And thus the seed for Bobby Ganache, purveyor of macarons, was planted. If you are not familiar with macarons, they are a French confection that has been around for many centuries. According to several sources, the macaron was created in Italy and brought to France in the early 1500s. Macarons consist of two discs made from egg whites, finely ground almonds or almond flour, and sugar, with a filling between them.
After trying many recipes he found online for macarons, Alan settled on a recipe he came across in a book by Pierre Hermé, a renowned French pastry chef.
“Some of the recipes I found searching Google were really not very good,” Alan says. “But when I saw Hermé’s recipe, it resonated with me and it worked for me. His recipe makes seventy-five, so that is what I make in a batch. I know I should be able to cut it in half, but only the full recipe works for me.”
It took several months of experimenting before Alan felt he had made a decent-looking macaron. “You have to try and try, and fail and fail, and try and cry and fail, throw things, and cry some more,” he muses.
When he finally created a batch of macarons he was pleased with, he posted a picture on Facebook. “People wanted to buy them,” Alan says with amazement. Initially it was just friends and families. When it spread beyond, Alan realized it was time to make a business out of his love for this decadent goodie.
And why Bobby Ganache? “My favorite appetizer is baba ganoush (a Lebanese eggplant-based dip) and I thought, I need a dessert after my appetizer, and Bobby Ganache sounds similar to baba ganoush, so there it was,” Alan says with a laugh. And, sometimes the filling in his macarons is a ganache, a lovely combination of heavy cream and dark chocolate.
Alan, a combat veteran who did tours in Iraq and Bosnia, had wanted a simpler life and found baking to be a great form of therapy for PTSD. He takes his craft seriously and is a firm believer in using responsibly-sourced ingredients in his macarons so everything is organic, non-GMO, and fair trade.
“A lot of large companies have no moral compass,” he says. “They damage commerce and the economy of native populations and feed us garbage.”
Alan does not currently have a store front but has an online presence and does pop-up shops, local delivery in the Williamsport area, and sends macarons out via mail order. He also caters weddings, bridal showers, parties and other celebrations as well as attending various events as a vendor. And there is quite the history of macarons at weddings. It is rumored that King Louis XIV of France ate them at his wedding in 1660.
“I can do any color and flavor combination the wedding party wants,” he says. “Tiered macaron towers are starting to be used instead of wedding cakes, more out west than here, but it is a growing trend.”
And, indeed, the macarons that Lusk makes would be a gorgeous asset to any wedding reception. The colors are vibrant, and, from personal experience, their taste is exquisite. With names like The Hoppy Tangelo, Vanilla Trifecta, Tomatillo y Jalapeño con Pasa, and What the Eff!?, it is obvious that Alan is having some fun with his work.
“Inspiration can be from literally anywhere. I keep a notebook by my bed to write down thoughts that come in the middle of the night. These flavor combinations come from me and through me. It is who I am—pushing the boundaries of flavor with my soul shining through the food,” he explains.
He is a little bit of a perfectionist, and so spends the time to ensure his macarons are as perfect as they can be. “With infusions and other special techniques, some flavor combinations can take a week or longer. Even if I was making a relatively simple flavor combination, all of the macarons go through a maturation process of at least forty-eight hours.” He tries to have between seven and ten flavors available at any given time. “I like to have at least one dark chocolate filling, one white chocolate filling, one butter cream filling, one thick cream filling, one jam filling, and one marshmallow filling available. As flavors becomes depleted, I make new batches,” he says.
You can see all of the amazing combinations Alan has to offer at bobbyganache.com, but, be prepared. The website is an explosion of color and enthusiasm and happiness. There is even a link to a Spotify playlist— “Ganache for the people”—an eclectic selection of jazz, funk, hip-hop, swing, and world music.
And just so you know, you do need to have some special qualities to enjoy Bobby Ganache macarons. You must love to push the boundaries of food, always be hungry for more, and be ready to “let your tastebuds dance!”